South Fulton Cracks down on Party Houses

After a man died at a party at a South Fulton mansion in 2018, officials have taken steps to crack down on ticketed events in residential areas. The city has passed legislation to regulate the operation of short-term rentals which are commonly used in South Fulton and across the metro area for parties. Now it’s doubling down with a party house ordinance that passed this week.

“Regulating these types of activities in our communities is paramount for public safety,” said Councilwoman Carmalitha Gumbs who introduced the ordinance. “This legislation is in response to residents’ concerns and complaints, and another step toward making sure our residents have the best quality of life possible.”

The city defines party houses as single-family detached dwellings and accessory structures used for parties, receptions, ceremonies and similar events that require guests to pay an admission fee in cash or other exchange. Private gatherings and commercial events planned by owner-occupants of more than a year where no admission fee is charged are not affected by the legislation.

The new legislation – a seven-page document now part of the city’s zoning code – sets rules for lighting, noise, parking and more.

“As we work to best serve the rights of all property owners, we always seek a fair balance,” said Shayla Reed, director of community development and regulatory affairs. “This measure allows us to reach that balance by clearly defining guidelines for house party events hosted in residential properties.”

Anyone planning a house party is required to secure a special administrative permit as well as an occupational tax certificate from the city. The houses themselves must be at least 4,000 square feet and have a minimum street frontage of 300 feet. While regular outdoor lighting is permitted, event planners cannot use strobe or search lights, disco balls, spotlights or similar fixtures. All parties would be subject to the city’s noise ordinance.

Guests must park on a residence’s designated driveway or along the street directly in front of and on the same side of the street as the house. All events must end by 11 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and by midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and federal holidays.

Event planners are not be permitted to sell alcohol and are limited to the provision of only one drink as part of any admission charge. The ordinance prohibits house parties to within 2,000 feet of any city or county park, senior living facility and public or private school and within 1,000 feet of two or more other residential lots. The ordinance includes penalties of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 per violation.

Cities across the U.S. are introducing new regulations for party houses. And South Fulton’s ordinance comes on heels of a recent announcement by Airbnb officially banning all open-invite parties and events as part of new guidelines to be rolled out in 2020.